Archive for September, 2007

Health Care Reform

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

A Health Care Reform editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (“Then vs. now”, 09/30/07) bemoans the fact that “Health insurance premiums grew by 78 percent between 2001 and 2007.”

 

Meanwhile, the Missouri Department of Mental Health budget grew by 157 percent between 2001 and 2007, to over one billion dollars this year.

Per the Post-Dispatch’s own research (“Broken Promises, Broken Lives”, 6/11/2006), “Mentally retarded and mentally ill people in Missouri have been sexually assaulted, beaten, injured and left to die by abusive and neglectful caregivers in a system that for years has failed at every level to safeguard them.”

 

Looking at the whole picture, one could easily come to the conclusion that we got off lightly with only a 78 percent increase in health insurance premiums, while mental health fraud and abuse continues to rise as mental health care funding increases.

 

With mental health treatment costing up to 300% more than general medical treatment, spiraling costs are imminent. An increasing percentage of mental health care costs go toward psychiatric drugs that can damage the brain and physically harm patients. Spending on drugs generally is rising at three times or more the rate of inflation.

 

Efforts by the mental health industry to require insurance companies to pay mental health care benefits at the same level as for physical health care (called “mental health insurance parity”) are one significant reason why our health care system is in jeopardy. Mandated mental health parity is an effort by the mental health industry to have governments force insurers, employers, consumers and taxpayers pay for a fraudulent and abusive service they will not buy of their own free will. It drives up the cost of insurance and has skyrocketed the number of uninsured.

 

Read the CCHR publication WHAT DOES MANDATED MENTAL HEALTH PARITY PAY FOR? Skyrocketing Costs, Increased Stigma, More Child Abuse & Fraud at http://www.cchr.org/index.cfm/17106.

 

Despite mounting evidence of a link between antidepressants and suicide/violence, psychiatrists indiscriminately prescribe the drugs to millions, based on subjective diagnoses made without any physical tests — such as blood tests, brain scans or X-rays — and try to obscure the dangerous side effects of the drugs in order to protect billions in profit from drug sales.

 

CCHR is calling on:

 

1) The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to place in a prominent box on both the Drug Information Packaging and bottle, a statement that consumers have the right to report any adverse psychiatric drug reaction to the FDA (MedWatch), and

 

2) All state governments and the federal government to recognize the dangers of psychiatric drugs and to start channeling funds away from unworkable and dangerous psychiatric methods and into medical programs that:

  • help wean a person safely off psychiatric drugs, and
  • help mentally disturbed individuals with effective medical/alternative, non-psychiatric programs.

 

The Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 (H.R. 3580)

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

Congress gave final approval Thursday, November 20, 2007  to legislation designed to transform the Food and Drug Administration from a passive monitor to an active detective seeking out medications that have been approved for sale but turn out to be hazardous.

The Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 (H.R. 3580) passed by unanimous consent in the Senate after the House overwhelmingly passed it the day before, and the bill has been signed into law by the President.

 

Thank you for for supporting CCHR, helping it and its allies achieve what the media are heralding as the, “most significant drug safety legislation in more than 40 years.”

Overcoming unbelievable obstacles, and working with many consumer and parents groups and whistleblowers, in a nutshell the following is some of what was achieved:

§         Drug ads will now carry a conspicuous notice: “You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.”  Until now, over 90% of Americans didn’t know that they could bypass their psych or MD to report adverse drug reactions (ADRs) to the FDA (because psychs/doctors only report 1-10 percent of drug side effects.) Empowering people with the ability to report side effects themselves and the ADR reports could increase 100x! And $225 million is to be allocated to ensure that the FDA does oversee the adverse reactions and acts on them!

§         Drug companies must now publicly post all results—the good, bad and the ugly—of their drug clinical trials on the Internet. They can no longer selectively choose what they want you to know. The posting will include a glossary for the lay people explaining technical terms to ensure that such information is not misleading or misunderstood.

§         If any drug maker submits false information on a clinical trial, the FDA will post a notice stating: “The entry for this clinical trial was found to be false or misleading and therefore not in compliance with the law.”

 

§         The FDA must now monitor drug advertisements and if they are false or misleading, can fine drug makers up to to $10 million.

 

You can see that your support of CCHR is getting dynamic RESULTS. Please continue to support CCHR with your donations and your volunteer efforts.

 

Think psychiatrists don’t
know their drugs
cause violence?
Think again.

 

Homicide by Psychiatric Hospital Staff Goes Unpunished

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Exposé is Representative of National Restraint Death & Patient Abuse

Rickey Dean Wingo was among 115 “suspicious deaths” in Georgia state psychiatric hospitals between 2002-2006, one of the death tolls uncovered by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC). In May 2002, Wingo suffocated to death while staff at the Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital restrained him face down. Ruled a homicide, no staff was ever charged and like many other psychiatric staff across the country, they are literally getting away with murder. In fact, in the case of Northwest, rather than facing disciplinary procedures, one of the employees involved received a pay increase.

The AJC reported, “In many instances, employees of the hospital where a death has occurred investigate their colleagues’ actions—and, records show, rarely find fault.” Of the 194 verified allegations of physical or sexual abuse of patients by Georgia psychiatric hospital employees, as well as violent physical restraint, the AJC reported that it “could find criminal charges in no more than a handful of instances.” Abuses occurring in the facilities routinely go uninvestigated and unpunished because the government-funded institutions lack sufficient independent oversight.

It is a national disgrace that despite more than $100 billion poured into mental health care nationally and federal regulations passed in 1999 to prevent restraint deaths, patient deaths from such restraints continue to be prevalent and go unpunished. They are not limited to Georgia. According to Dr. Bernard Aarons, former director of the Federal Center for Mental Health Services, restraint deaths could be as many as 150 a year, some as young as 6-years-old.

Thorough, independent investigation of abuses and deaths in psychiatric institutions is needed to ensure that federal laws are complied with. Click here for more information on violent and lethal restraints used to silence psychiatric patients, published by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights.

Scientific Legitimacy of Psychiatry’s “Billing Bible” Increasingly Under Fire

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

A recent study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry exposes the lack of medical legitimacy behind psychiatric diagnoses.

Using the diagnostic criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), psychiatry’s billing bible, researchers Michael B. First (DSM editor), Jerome Wakefield, Allan Horwitz and Mark Schmitz found that people experiencing normal sadness, divorce, rejection and economic misfortune are erroneously being classified with a mental disorder. Horwitz stated, “People are starting to think that any sort of negative emotion is unnatural.” He further remarked that psychiatry has come to think of itself as “the arbiter [judge] of normality.”

A book by Wakefield on this topic, written with Rutgers sociologist Allan Horwitz and titled “The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow into Depressive Disorder,” has just been published by Oxford Press.

This study is only the latest in a series of events that have exposed the DSM’s lack of credibility and undermined public confidence in the psychiatric profession. Psychiatrist Robert Spitzer, who oversaw two out of five revisions of the DSM and defined more than a hundred mental disorders, recently admitted to the BBC, “What happened, is that we made estimates of the prevalence of mental disorders totally descriptively, without considering that many of these conditions might be normal reactions which are not really disorders. That’s the problem, because we were not looking at the context in which those conditions developed.”

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a psychiatric watchdog, says that the study only partially reveals the fraud of psychiatric diagnoses being used to justify the mass drugging of millions. There are no physical tests—such as blood or urine tests, brain scans or X-rays—which can be used to medically/scientifically prove who is mentally ill and who isn’t. It is all a matter of opinion, which has enabled psychiatrists to redefine behaviors as illness or disease. Mathematical problems, jet lag and drinking too much coffee, for example, are listed in the DSM as “disorders”—and for each “disorder”, the pharmaceutical industry invents a drug to treat it.

While people do experience real life difficulties, this does not mean they have an illness of the brain requiring the administration of potentially lethal, mind-altering drugs. CCHR says the stigma of an unproven psychiatric label often prevents people from seeking out safe, medically proven alternatives to handling problems of attention, mood or emotional duress.

The profitability of psychiatry “medicalizing” behaviors and emotions can be traced to the vested interests of psychiatrists who profit from inventing and categorizing new mental disorders. A 2006 study in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found a majority (56%) of the panel members responsible for revisions to the DSM had one or more financial ties to drug companies. The study also found that 100% of the panel members on “Mood Disorders” and “Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders” had financial ties to pharmaceutical companies. The lead author of this study, Lisa Cosgrove of the University of Massachusetts Boston stated, “No blood tests exist for the disorders in the DSM. It relies on judgments from practitioners who rely on the manual.”

Commenting on this study, UCLA psychiatry professor, Dr. Irwin Savodnik, stated “The very vocabulary of psychiatry is now defined at all levels by the pharmaceutical industry.”

The heavy scrutiny over psychiatrists’ conflicts of interest and the subjectivity of psychiatric diagnoses comes at a time when international governmental bodies are issuing an increasing number of warnings—24 in the last two years—about the serious dangers of psychiatric drugs, including suicidal behavior, homicidal ideation, fatal birth defects, psychosis, heart attack, stroke and sudden death.

To learn more about the DSM, read CCHR’s publication, Psychiatric Diagnostic Manual Link to Drug Manufacturers, or click here to see what experts say about the issue. For more information on the dangers of psychiatric drugs, read The Report on the Escalating International Warnings on Psychiatric Drugs by CCHR.

 

Convicted Psychiatrist Remained on Payroll for Months

Monday, September 10th, 2007

According to the Los Angeles Times (Wednesday, 5/9/07), psychiatrist Trey Sunderland, a senior researcher at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and “a lasting symbol of the agency’s entanglements with drug companies,” remained on the federal payroll several months after he pleaded guilty to a federal conflict-of-interest charge relating to hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments from pharmaceutical companies. Last December, a U.S. District Judge fined Sunderland $300,000 and sentenced him to two years of supervised probation and 400 hours of community service. Representative Joe L. Barton called the NIH “an ethical Potemkin village [something that appears effective but isn’t], where a hollow system appears to provide the illusion of integrity, but transgressors never leave.”

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a mental health watchdog group, says that criminality is rife within the mental health system, so much so that it has tracked more than 1,000 convictions of psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health workers and created a database as a public warning. Found at www.psychcrime.org, it was established as a public service to law enforcement agencies, health care fraud investigators, medical and psychological licensing boards and the general public.

The LA Times story follows Massachusetts psychiatrist Daniel J. Carlat’s admission to the Boston Globe, stating: “Our [psychiatric] field as a whole is progressively being purchased lock, stock, and barrel by the drug companies: this includes the diagnoses, the treatment guidelines, and the national meetings.”

To read more about conflicts of interest in the mental health field, read CCHR’s publication, Psychiatric Diagnostic Manual Link to Drug Manufacturers.

 

The Rosenhan Experiments – Still Valid Today

Monday, September 10th, 2007

In 1972, Stanford psychologist David L. Rosenhan conducted his classic experiments into the validity of psychiatric diagnosis.

 

Eight people with no prior mental health issues were admitted to 12 different psychiatric hospitals around the country, each manifesting the same faked mental symptoms. All eight pseudopatients were diagnosed, admitted and treated – 7 for schizophrenia and 1 for bipolar disorder.

 

In a follow-up study, Rosenhan told the staff at one hospital that he would be sending random pseudopatients for evaluation during a particular three-month period, and they were to spot the imposters. Out of 193 patients, the staff considered 41 to be imposters. In fact, Rosenhan had sent them no pseudopatients at all.

 

Rosenhan concluded that, “It is clear that we cannot distinguish the sane from the insane in psychiatric hospitals,” and “any diagnostic process that lends itself too readily to massive errors of this sort cannot be a very reliable one.”

 

These experiments and results were hotly debated over the following years, with various members of the psychiatric community supporting or criticizing the experiments and the results. Similar studies were conducted with similar problematic diagnostic results.

 

Multiple studies have found that up to 90% of patients with mental symptoms had real, undiagnosed and untreated physical illnesses that were causing the so-called mental symptoms. When the physical illnesses were treated, the mental symptoms were alleviated.

 

While psychiatrists continue to discount these results as merely “anecdotal,” psychiatric assertions of “chemical imbalances” and “treatable brain disorders” are themselves no more than anecdotal reports.

 

Diagnostic confusion also led to the proliferation of psychiatry’s billing bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM “is an unreliable, pseudoscientific document with enormous power to damage lives, while being used to rake in $76 billion a year in international psychiatric drug sales,” according to CCHR’s national U.S. president Bruce Wiseman. For more information on the DSM hoax, go to http://www.cchr.org/index.cfm/6509.

 

Dr. Lisa Cosgrove, a psychologist from the University of Massachusetts, also raises crucial points about the lack of science behind the DSM, stating, “No blood tests exist for the disorders in the DSM. It relies on judgments from practitioners who rely on the manual.”

 

Back to square one – psychiatric diagnosis itself continues to be “anecdotal.” At best it is arbitrary; at worst, harmful.

 

The number of American children and adolescents treated for bipolar disorder increased 40-fold from 1994 to 2003, according to an article in the New York Times (September 4, 2007). The article states, “Many experts theorize that the jump reflects that doctors are more aggressively applying the diagnosis to children, and not that the incidence of the disorder has increased.”

 

A contemporary advocate of children having bipolar disorder is psychiatrist Demitri F. Papolos, author of The Bipolar Child. However, in this, Papolos admits: “Diagnosis in psychiatry is a problem. After all, there are no lab tests that conclusively pinpoint a diagnosis….”

 

The sad fact is, any child diagnosed with bipolar—especially after being previously labeled with some DSM disorder—and treated with psychiatric drugs, is most likely suffering drug-induced damage, both physically and mentally. The prevalence in “bipolar” diagnoses is really a massive psychiatric drug push to children. Pediatric neurologist Fred Baughman, Jr., wrote: “The fact of the matter is—and a fact to which the country had better wake up—is that there is no abnormality to be found in any of psychiatry’s ‘diseases’—not in infants, not in toddlers, not in preschoolers, not at any age. Without invented ‘diseases,’ the psychiatric-pharmaceutical cartel would have nothing to treat. These are normal children with disciplinary and educational problems that can and must be resolved without recourse to drugs. Deceiving and drugging is not the practice of medicine. It is criminal.”

 

There is a world of difference between the art of identifying symptoms and the science of finding and treating causes. Psychiatrists specialize in cataloguing symptoms and then try to convince people that the symptoms are causes and that their treatments work, merely because the symptoms appear to have dissipated or changed.

 

But these are not causes, they are just symptoms and their treatments have brought about a worsening of the person’s condition. Blind to real causes, they remain blind to the consequences of their actions. And herein lies the most important truth concerning the plague of social problems characterizing our youth and general society today—psychiatrists defining every child or adolescent problem in life as a “mental disorder,” to be controlled by mind-altering drugs.

 

Any medical doctor who takes the time to conduct a thorough physical examination of a child or adult exhibiting signs of what psychiatrists say are “mental disorders,” can find undiagnosed, untreated physical conditions. For example, decades ago, the term “mad as a hatter” stemmed from workers using mercury to prepare felt hats. The fumes and the quantity accidentally ingested produced an organic deterioration resulting eventually in dementia. Thus a sizeable number of hatters became “mad” as a result of chronic mercury pollution.

 

Any person labeled with a so-called psychiatric disorder needs to receive a thorough physical examination by a competent medical—not psychiatric—doctor to first determine what underlying physical condition is causing the manifestation, including, but not limited to testing for:

• lead or pesticide poisoning

• thyroid conditions

• diabetes

• heart disease

• worms

• viral or bacterial infections

• malnutrition

• head injuries or tumors

• allergies

• vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies

• mercury exposure

What Does Mandated Mental Health Parity Pay For?

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

Skyrocketing Costs, Increased Stigma, More Child Abuse & Fraud

An editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (“Wrong Way” Missouri, 8/31/2007) says that, “New U.S. Census Bureau numbers released Tuesday showed that the number of uninsured people in Missouri increased a staggering 15.4 percent from 2005 to 2006, from 668,146 to 771,682. Nationally, the number of people lacking health insurance increased by only 5 percent, to 47 million.”

This is a problem because, “Increasing numbers of uninsured Americans are straining the health care system, escalating costs, inflicting untold suffering on individuals and their families and pushing health-care reform toward the top of the nation’s priority list…”

On the same day, another article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Mo. changes plan for Bellefontaine Rehab center) indicated that, “the U.S. Department of Justice labeled the [Missouri Department of Mental Health] center unsafe and ill-equipped to care for its mentally retarded and developmentally disabled residents, who were repeatedly abused and neglected. Those findings came 10 months after a Post-Dispatch investigation found widespread mistreatment of residents at the center and at other public and privately run facilities overseen by DMH.”

After a year of investigations, hand-wringing, and supposedly, reforms implemented in the Missouri Department of Mental Health, “on June 27, an annual federal review of the center resulted in a declaration of ‘immediate jeopardy’ on behalf of a resident.” One could conclude that little progress has been made by the Missouri Department of Mental Health toward cleaning up its history of fraud and patient abuse.

What can we learn from these two articles? We might investigate why these articles are related: escalating health care costs, escalating uninsured, fraud and abuse in the mental health system.

With mental health treatment costing up to 300% more than general medical treatment, spiraling costs are imminent. Dr. Mark Schiller, psychiatrist and Senior Fellow in Medical Studies at the California‐based Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, states that “historically, psychiatric and substance abuse facilities quickly appear to take advantage of new insurance reimbursement sources. These facilities go on to promote their services extensively, leading to further increases in expenditures and ultimately higher insurance premiums.”

An increasing percentage of mental health care costs go toward psychiatric drugs that can damage the brain and physically harm patients. Spending on drugs generally is rising at three times or more the rate of inflation.

In May, 2001, the Office of the Inspector General reported that one-third of outpatient mental health care services provided to Medicare beneficiaries were “medically unnecessary, billed incorrectly, rendered by unqualified provider, and undocumented or poorly documented.”

Efforts by the mental health industry to require insurance companies to pay mental health care benefits at the same level as for physical health care (called “mental health insurance parity”) are one significant reason why our health care system is in jeopardy.

Thomas Szasz, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, wrote in The Washington Times, “Advocating ‘parity for mental illness’ is a hoax. The supporters of ‘mental health parity’ do not want parity for mental patients: They do not seek equal ‘legal treatment’ by legislators and courts for mental patients and medical patients. What they want is parity for psychiatrists: They seek equal ‘monetary treatment’ by health insurance companies for psychiatrists and other physicians.”

In short, mandated mental health parity is an effort by the mental health industry to have governments force insurers, employers, consumers and taxpayers pay for a service they will not buy of their own free will. It drives up the cost of insurance and has skyrocketed the number of uninsured.

Psychiatry and psychology should be held accountable for the funds already given them and irrefutably and scientifically prove the physical existence of mental disorders they claim should be treated and covered by insurance in the same way as physical diseases are.

Health insurance coverage for mental health problems should only be provided on the proviso that full, searching physical examinations are first undertaken to determine that no underlying and, thereby, untreated physical condition is causing the person’s mental health condition. Such examinations would be covered under existing health coverage.

For the full report, read the CCHR publication WHAT DOES MANDATED MENTAL HEALTH PARITY PAY FOR? Skyrocketing Costs, Increased Stigma, More Child Abuse & Fraud at http://www.cchr.org/index.cfm/17106.

Ritalin stunts growth of children

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

Long-term risk to children’s health unknown

Monday, July 23, 2007 by: Mike Adams

New research published in the August, 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry finds that Ritalin, the amphetamine drug used to treat a fictitious medical disorder labeled Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, stunts the growth of children. After three years on the psychotropic drug, children are one inch shorter and 4.4 pounds lighter than their peers, researchers have documented. 

The psychiatric industry, of course, has been trying to play down the growth-stunting effects of Ritalin for at least a decade. Research conducted over the last several years by psychiatrists working for the National Institutes of Health initially found evidence of the drug stunting growth of children, yet nevertheless concluded that Ritalin carries “no long-term growth risk” to children. (Those researchers, by the way, failed to disclose their financial conflicts of interest with drug companies.)  Because of that conclusion, psychiatrists have refrained from warning parents about the fact that Ritalin stunts the growth of their children, focusing instead of how their children need “treatment” to correct a “brain chemistry disorder” that was, in reality, invented by the Big Pharma-backed psychiatric industry as a way to sell more drugs to children who don’t need them.

Read the whole article at http://www.newstarget.com/021944.html